How occupational licensure hurts small business

On this year’s Small Business Week, it behooves us all to examine some of the policies that keep entrepreneurs from achieving their potential. While support of small business is a favorite talking point of both political parties, there in fact remain many government-created barriers designed to protect big businesses from smaller competitors. One such barrier is occupational license requirements.

Nearly 30 percent of workers in the United States now require a license to perform their job. If you ask a politician why this is so, they will likely justify licensing with appeals to safety and consumer protection. When it comes to practicing medicine or operating heavy machinery, this explanation makes some amount of intuitive sense, but there are plenty of other occupations for which the rationale is less clear.